How MLS clubs rank in recent draft-day performance

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With the NFL draft today, let’s not miss the opportunity to talk draft in soccer.

Clearly, this is a different animal. In professional football the college draft represents a far larger piece of the overall personnel acquisition equation. Soccer’s international transfer market, plus the emerging domestic academy system, significantly diminishes Major League Soccer’s SuperDraft as a means of collecting talent.

Still, the SuperDraft can certainly be an important part of the puzzle.  Omar Gonzalez (pictures), Tim Ream, Chris Pontius, Brek Shea, Joao Plata, Geoff Cameron, Roger Espinoza, Graham Zusi, Teal Bunbury, Zach Loyd are among the quality players plucked in drafts over the last five seasons.

So, here are my rankings of how each club has performed on draft day over the last five years, and how the clubs have performed on draft day over the last three years.

Team ranks over last five years (includes only clubs that drafted each year from 2008 forward):

  • T-1. D.C. United
  • T-1. FC Dallas
  • 3. Sporting Kansas City
  • T-4. L.A. Galaxy
  • T-4. New England
  • T-4. Toronto FC
  • 7. San Jose
  • T-8. Chicago
  • T-8. Chivas USA
  • 10. Houston
  • 11. Real Salt Lake
  • 12. Colorado

Team ranks last three years (includes only clubs that drafted each year from 2010 forward):

  • 1. Philadelphia
  • T-2. New England
  • T-2. New York
  • T-4. Chivas USA
  • T-4. Columbus
  • T-6. D.C. United
  • T-6. FC Dallas
  • 8. Toronto FC
  • T-9. Chicago
  • T-9. L.A. Galaxy
  • T-9. San Jose
  • T-9. Seattle
  • 13. Sporting Kansas City
  • T-14. Colorado
  • T-14. Real Salt Lake
  • 16. Houston

How I arrived at the rankings was fairly simple and a little less subjective than you might think:

Each draftee who stuck around was assigned a point value of (1). Each draftee who became a starter for any stretch of time got a (2). Each draftee that became a solid starter and valuable member of a team (in many cases, by the way, it was a different team) was assigned a (3). Star men like Ream or Gonzalez got a (4).

In each case, the point value was assigned to the team that drafted them.

You’ll notice that drafting high in the order has been a reliable predictor of success over the last few years. So, teams that haven’t done well in the standings lately tended to clump near the top.

I’ll have a few more notes from recent drafts on another post, in about an hour.

MLS Best XI unveiled with awesome foosball video

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Major League Soccer, wow, this is terrific #content.

MLS released its Best XI on Monday with a dynamite video of the players passing the ball from Zack Steffen in goal to Josef Martinez up top… via a virtual foosball table.

[ VIDEO: An unprecedented goal ]

The XI is set in a 3-4-3, with the New York Red Bulls, DC United, and Atlanta United leading the way with a pair of players each.

My predictions? Well, I only got six correct. Whoops. The only absence that really surprises me is Graham Zusi, and Sporting KC not having representation at all. I guess that explains why SKC manager Peter Vermes is going to be announced as the next USMNT– Wait, what’s that? Oh. I’ll stop talking.

2018 MLS Best XI

Goalkeeper: Zack Steffen (Columbus)

Defenders: Kemar Lawrence (RBNY), Aaron Long (RBNY), Chad Marshall (Seattle)

Midfielders: Miguel Almiron (Atlanta), Luciano Acosta (DC), Ignacio Piatti (Montreal), Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy), Josef Martinez (Atlanta), Wayne Rooney (DC)

WATCH: Striker scores potentially unprecedented goal while helping teammate

Photo by John Thys/EuroFootball/Getty Images
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“Look, I know you’re injured, but I’m gonna be right back. Got a goal to score for us.”

Maccabi Petah Tikva forward Habib Habibou scored what can only be described as an unprecedented goal — at least in terms of being captured on video — Israel this weekend.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

Habibou, 31, and his club were locked in scoreless tussle with Maccabi Netanya on Saturday when one of his teammates was injured in the box.

The CAR striker, formerly of Zulte Waregem and Royal Charleroi, was taking care of said teammate when he spotted an 87th minute spilled rebound.

What was he gonna do, really, other than dart onto the loose ball, score the match-winner, and then return to his ailing mate?

Petah Tikva won 1-0.

Juventus executive: Bring season Serie A game abroad

Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
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Juventus chief revenue officer Giorgio Ricci likes La Liga’s idea of taking a regular season match outside of its domestic borders.

Ricci would like Serie A to explore a similar move, saying Italian soccer can only benefit from putting its brand in other markets.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

Serie A lags behind other top European league in TV money, which has hindered its ability to recruit top end talent relative to its competitors.

Ricci says if American sports see value in bringing their top leagues to Europe, it holds that the reverse would be true. From the BBC:

“If we look at some other more developed leagues in terms of commercial strategy; the NBA and NFL, they are exporting one or two of their matches abroad, to the UK or elsewhere in Europe. I think it is a good strategy. It is a way to export something that is not an exhibition.”

Would a regular season match bring any more eyes or attention than the International Champions Cup, at least enough to offset the sacrifice of atmosphere? It seems doubtful, but the money is the key here. Italy wants to catch up with Spain, Germany, and England.

FC Cincinnati switches crest ahead of MLS debut

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FC Cincinnati has unveiled its crest for 2019’s maiden voyage in Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

Sticking with the orange and blue color combination which has served them since inception, the shield has FC in the top left corner, Cincinnati running diagonally left-to-right in blue script on white, and a winged lion holding a sword as the primary icon.

FCC will draft up to five current MLS players in the Expansion Draft on Dec. 11. Teams will announce their protected lists on Dec. 10.

Cincinnati will play in the Eastern Conference. It won the USL regular season championship under coach Alan Koch in 2018.